Paris will become the world's first major city with a standing citizens' assembly. This was decided by the city council of the Seine metropolis on 14 October 2021. The citizens' assembly will consist of 100 randomly selected residents of the city. These are to be a reflection of the Parisian population according to gender, age, place of residence and education.
The aim of the Citizens' Assembly is to "get Parisians to really participate in political decision-making in the capital", according to City Hall. The new body, which will meet once a month, is due to start work in November 2021.
Consequence of the yellow wests protests
"The project has been in the planning for some time," explained Anouch Toranian, Paris mayor's commissioner for civic participation. Since 2019, to be precise. At that time, in the midst of the crisis over the yellow wests, a citizens' consultation organised after a kind of "great debate" at the Parisian level called for the creation of a body that would give citizens the opportunity to participate in shaping policy.
"We are in a very tense situation with a record number of non-voters and a great distrust in society towards the institutions, so it was the right time to convene this citizens' assembly," says the elected representative of the 15th arrondissement.
Model East Belgium
The Parisian model was inspired by a procedure already in place in East Belgium since 2019, but goes further in terms of the powers of the citizens' assembly. The citizens' assembly can
- draft délibérations (local draft laws), which then go to the city council for debate and a vote
- request the drafting of scrutiny reports on an issue
- raise questions at city council meetings
- set the topics of the Paris participatory budget
- put at least one issue per year on their agenda themselves